My life

Strangers and aliens

One of my primary concerns about the American church is that so many Christians seem to be more American than Christian. You will find no greater patriot than a conservative believer. Unfortunately, this often results in the church supporting unjust policies and corrupt leaders, with the reasoning that if something benefits the US or our causes, it is justified even if it is twisted or steps on the rights of others.

The Bible makes it clear that, if we are followers of Jesus, we are no longer citizens of the world. Numerous passages refer to our status as strangers and aliens here:

John 17:13b-18 NLT: I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world..

1 Peter 2:11-12 NLT: 11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Hebrews 11:13 NLT: 13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.

Ephesians 2:19-20 NLT: 19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

If we are truly citizens of God’s Kingdom, our allegiances on earth are secondary. Patriotism is fine, but if our Kingdom concerns are righteousness, holiness, and redemption, they will filter our view of political and social issues, and we will be concerned with correcting and preventing injustices rather than justifying them. We can love our country, but we need to be unflinchingly honest about its flaws and abuses.